What is a CMS?

This blog is part of a two-part series on Content Management Systems. Stay tuned for our next installment on Enterprise Content Management Systems.

If you have a website or are thinking of building a website, chances are you’ve thought about integrating a Content Management System (CMS). With so many available options, it’s hard to choose the right one that suits your needs, especially when you’re just getting started. But if you’re just starting out, how do you even know what your needs are? Don’t worry–we’re here to help!

So, what exactly is a Content Management System?

A CMS is a software application or set of related programs that are used to create and manage digital content. If you’ve blogged before, you’ve probably heard of WordPress. You might’ve even seen commercials for Squarespace, and Wix. These platforms help you quickly build a website with easy-to-use drag and drop features and customizable templates all while maintaining a fresh look and feel. These platforms also make collaboration easier by allowing anyone to upload, edit, or change content, add logos, or replace images. Which means you’d be able to pull a seemingly-elaborate April Fool’s prank on the office if you’re bold enough!

How do I choose a CMS?

As mentioned before, there are several CMS options. While their features vary, their core functions are typically format management, indexing, search and retrieval, revision control, and publishing. When choosing a CMS, there are several factors to consider. While it’s a good idea to always look for basic functionalities, like an easy-to-use interface and great search capabilities, you also want to consider what requirements and needs you have. For example, considering your organization’s size and location is always a good idea. If you have locations in several different areas of the country (or the world) you may require a CMS with multi-language support and a large support team to maintain operations.

Okay, you might’ve sold me on a CMS. What are my options?

Now that you’ve decided a CMS is exactly what you need, the next step is deciding which platform best fits your needs. We’ve listed out a few popular, entry-level content management systems to help you narrow down your search.

Drupal: Best for Security and SEO

Drupal is a free open source tool that is completely customizable. As an added bonus, it allows you to create users and roles specific to their department’s needs. The Drupal platform also stands up to the most daunting threats on the Internet (Except Internet trolls. No one is ever safe from those). This CMS works as an entry-level CMS, but it’s also great for Enterprise clients. These, and a few other reasons are why meltmedia selected Drupal as one of its CMS of choice.

Joomla: Best for Customization and Small Business

Like some other Content Management Systems, Joomla is also open-source and is designed for developers with coding experience. Joomla offers a broad selection of commerce and business add-ons and works well for companies looking to step up their basic website for something more interactive, unique, and professional.

Magento: Best for eCommerce

This CMS is more of an add-on tool that’s geared towards making powerful eCommerce websites. It offers out-of-the-box capabilities, the ability to customize your own code, as well as ready-made themes.

Shopify: Best for eCommerce

Shopify makes it easy for you to have complete control over the look and feel of your online store. With hundreds of themes to choose from, this CMS is sure to give you a beautiful online store that reflects the personality of your business.

Squarespace: Design Friendly

Recently, Squarespace has become one of the most popular content management systems out there. Even if you’re not fluent in web design, Squarespace makes it easy for you to build your own website that looks like an expert made it right from the start.

Webflow: Design Friendly

If you’re a designer, Webflow is extremely customizable. This tool helps you design and develop at the same time. Like Squarespace, you can still use a template to build and design your website. Webflow, however, allows both designers and developers the power to design, build, and launch custom dynamic websites, while writing clean, semantic code for you.

WordPress: Best for Marketing

If your company specializes in marketing, classic WordPress might be a good way to go. This platform is free and open source, which means you can install it on your own host with no issues. HTML or programming experience is not needed, as there are also WordPress templates to choose from, and it can be administered on any normal web browser from anywhere in the world, even your iPhone.

I’m still not sure if these are the right platforms for me.

The content management systems listed above are great for managing any type of website, from marketing to eCommerce. However, they don’t have the ability to manage high volume traffic, extreme security, custom workflows, or use cases. These entry-level CMS platforms can’t help you in those departments, but an Enterprise CMS might be just what you’re looking for. If you’re not convinced an entry-level platform covers your needs, stick around to learn about Enterprise CMS where you get the added benefits of better documentation, support, scalability, and overall, more accountability.

Have a CMS question on something we didn’t cover? Ask away here!

Originally published at www.meltmedia.com.